Scottish Daily Mail
The number of Muslims in Europe reaches 44m
THE Paris attacks have drawn renewed attention to Europe’s growing Muslim population.
In several European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, serious concerns have been raised about the challenges of integration.
The Muslim share of Europe’s total population has been increasing steadily by about 1 percentage point a decade – from 4 per cent in 1990 to 6 per cent in 2010.
According to the US-based Pew Research Center think-tank, the number of Muslims in Europe is about 44million. Within EU countries, the figure is around 19million.
In Europe, Russia’s population of 14million Muslims – 10 per cent of its total – is the largest on the continent.
In the EU, Germany and France have the biggest Muslim populations, both being home to around 4.7million. By contrast, the UK has about 2.9million Muslims – the third largest number.
However, at 7.5 per cent of the population, France has the highest proportion of Muslims of any major nation in Western Europe. Studies suggest this will pass 10
‘An incubator for terrorism’
per cent by 2030. Muslims make up 6 per cent of the population in the Netherlands, 5.9 per cent in Belgium, 5.8 per cent in Germany and 4.8 per cent in the UK.
The French capital of Paris and its metropolitan area also has more Muslims than any other city in the EU – an estimated 1.7million. This is partly due to the legacy of the bitter war for Algeria, France’s Muslim former colony, in the 1950s.
Tensions surrounding France’s Muslim community have long been simmering in the banlieues – vast concrete slums dominated by immigrants.
This has led commentators to question whether these Paris suburbs are an ‘incubator for terrorism’. It also helps to explain why Paris appears to be a more fruitful recruiting ground for Islamic State than cities in some other western countries.
Despite a number of anti-radicalisation campaigns by the French authorities, the government has seemingly been unable to prevent considerable numbers of young Muslims veering towards extremism.
Earlier this year, a report by King’s College London’s International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence found that only Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Russia and Jordan had more of their own fighting with IS than France. Accord- ing to the study, an estimated 1,200 fighters travelled from France to wage jihad, compared to around 600 from the UK.
Home-grown terror in France has been blamed on resentment among some disaffected young Muslims, who often face discrimination in employment and housing.
Last year, a survey by ICM Research for the Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya found a shocking one in six French citizens supported IS. However, a Pew Research Center poll from 2009 found 35 percent of French Muslims were concerned about Islamic extremism. Among British Muslims, the figure was 52 per cent.
Yesterday, a London-based Muslim group caused outrage by blaming the West for Friday night’s attacks in Paris.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission, which has called for the release of terror chiefs, said the atrocity was fuelled by ‘unethical’ western foreign policy.
It said in a statement: ‘The cold-blooded murder of scores of innocent civilians ... can find no justification anywhere, let alone in the tenets of a world faith followed by over one-and-a-half billion people.
‘However we should not let our anger and condemnation of a depraved group obscure the fact that western intervention in the Middle East is responsible for both the origins and continued strength of [IS].’
Other UK groups such as the Muslim Council of Britain roundly condemned the terror attacks. And Muslims in Luton took to the streets to show their outrage, many with signs reading ‘Not In My Name’.